Greetings everyone! It sure has been one really hot summer here in Southern California! It’s been awhile since my last post and much has changed during that time. With the complete release of Curse of Naxxramas, the Hearthstone meta-game has been dominated by Hunter decks due to the additions of webspinner, haunted creeper, and mad scientist.
If you have been playing during the past few weeks, you’ll probably notice getting paired against Hunter players every other match on average. No exaggeration. This was especially true for ranks 6-20 because many players want to climb the ladder quickly with a known successful deck. Moreover, Hunter decks don’t really require use of legendary cards so the deck was more accessible to everyone. Note: The impending nerf to leeroy jenkins and starving buzzard has already started to shake up the Hearthstone meta-game.
In past seasons, I have used my bloodlust Shaman deck to hit legendary rank. However as many of you know, the Shaman-Hunter match-up is very difficult as there isn’t a great way to play around the starving buzzard into unleash the hounds combo. As such, I decided it was a good time to revisit an old deck of mine: Divine Wisdom. Note: As of writing this article, I have already reached rank 5 all the way from rank 10 with a massive winning streak along the way.
Divine Wisdom Meets Deathrattle
Divine Wisdom is one of my pet decks as I love the tag team card draw engine of divine favor and blessing of wisdom. With the release of Curse of Naxxramas, the deck received quite a few number of tools that vastly improved the overall archetype. One of the notable weaknesses of the deck in the past was the lack of resilient 1-drops. Cards such as worgen infiltrator and young priestess were very vulnerable due to their 1 health. The Druid, Mage, and Rogue classes each have hero abilities that can keep these early minions off the board. However, two very strong 1-drops were released in the form of undertaker and zombie chow. Utilizing these cards meant for the obvious inclusion of a deathrattle sub-theme in the deck.
noble sacrifice – Noble Sacrifice serves the role of Shieldbearer by protecting your priority minions (i.e. Knife Juggler, Blessing of Wisdom minion) from opposing attacks. Without ways to increase/buff the stats of Shieldbearer, the card is no longer as effective. Moreover, Noble Sacrifice is able to dodge sweeper effects while Shieldbearer does not.
Pre-Naxxramas Slot: shieldbearer
undertaker – An unanswered Undertaker simply wins games all by itself. It allows you to maintain board control right from the start of the game and scales well into the mid-game due to its growing nature. Moreover, it also serves as a huge removal magnet as your opponent should prioritize getting it off the board.
Pre-Naxxramas Slot: young priestess
zombie chow – Zombie Chow serves as one of seven deathrattle minions to fuel Undertaker. Starting the game off with “The Coin”, Undertaker, and Zombie Chow is incredibly strong and generally difficult for your opponent to recover from. Moreover, the drawback is not as much of a liability as one might expect since you will often be able to trade it in the early game before dealing more than 5 points of damage anyway. Furthermore, the deck values boarding control as oppose to dealing direct damage (i.e. Face Hunter).
Pre-Naxxramas Slot: leper gnome
haunted creeper – I don’t generally say this about any card but I think Haunted Creeper is one of the best unconditional cards from the entire expansion. Despite being just a 1/2 minion, it is very difficult to deal with efficiently and thus manages to stay on the board well after first played. Furthermore, one of the strongest plays this deck can make is trading a Haunted Creeper with an active knife juggler on the board for dealing extra damage.
Pre-Naxxramas Slot: worgen infiltrator
loot hoarder – Despite being available prior to the expansion, Loot Hoarder now makes a lot of sense since it increases the deathrattle count for Undertaker. Moreover, Loot Hoarder helps you cycle through your deck faster in order to find Divine Favor and/or Blessing of Wisdom. In my experience, it is very difficult to win if you cannot find at least one of your 4 draw engines. A nice secondary benefit of Loot Hoarder is that you don’t really have to worry about over-extending with it.
Pre-Naxxramas Slot: amani berserker
bloodmage thalnos – Bloodmage Thalnos pretty much serves as a third Loot Hoarder. Combining Bloodmage Thalnos with Consecration to create a larger sweeper effect occasionally comes up as well.
Pre-Naxxramas Slot: defender of argus
equality – Though not listed in the original article, I later added Equality (pre-Naxxramas) to my list in order to deal with random aggro hate cards such as ancient of war. Killing an Ancient of War with a Silver Hand Recruit is one of the most gratifying feelings I have had with this deck. Additionally, Equality plays very well with many of the other minions in the deck since many of them have very low health anyways.
Pre-Naxxramas Slot: dire wolf alpha
king mukla – King Mukla was actually suggested by the poster Ben in the comment section of my previous article. That’s right, your voice makes a difference! Generally it is correct to mulligan the card away as the drawback is big liability in the early game. However, I believe its inclusion in the deck is worth it due to its combo potential and ability to turn your Divine Favors on against other aggressive decks. Moreover, King Mukla is the lone large minion in the deck and thus allows you to maintain board control in the late game. Regardless, just make sure to play King Mukla when your opponent is hoarding 8+ cards as this will force him to discard the next card(s) he draws.
Pre-Naxxramas Slot: defender of argus
King Mukla + Divine Favor: As mentioned in the card description of King Mukla, Divine Favor draws you an additional two cards for the price of two bananas. This is value at its best.
King Mukla + Aldor Peacekeeper: Using Aldor Peacekeeper to “erase” the opposing minion’s increased attack once again allows you to get maximum value out of King Mukla.
Haunted Creeper + Knife Juggler: Crashing your Haunted Creeper into a larger minion to trade up with the use of Knife Juggler’s daggers is one of the best feel good moments for this deck.
Equality + Knife Juggler: With plenty of mana available and a few low-cost minions in hand, Equality basically reads “two mana: destroy all of your opponent’s minions.”
Equality + Consecration: This is similar to the Equality-Knife Juggler combo but has a fixed total mana cost of six mana and doesn’t require additional minion cards in hand.
Silver Hand Recruit + Argent Protector + Blessing of Wisdom: Though not really a combo, this pairing illustrates what the deck wants to do. Granting a Silver Hand Recruit [that’s ready to attack] divine shield and Blessing of Wisdom puts your opponent in a really tough spot. Aside from silence effects, your opponent will typically need to utilize two resources or a premium removal spell in order to deal with your makeshift card advantage engine.
Possible Legendary Replacements
harvest golem – Because Bloodmage Thalnos has deathrattle, it is only fitting to replace it with another deathrattle card. Though now somewhat overshadowed by Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem is still a very solid option and difficult to deal with in general.
defender of argus – As currently constructed, Noble Sacrifice and Argent Protector serve as the only protection for our priority minions. Defender of Argus is still a very good card and was only cut to make room for the two legendary cards in the deck. He can protect our minions by either giving them increased stats or by forcing your opponent to have to fight through two deterrent taunt minions.
Why Play Divine Wisdom Over Zoo Variants
In the past, some observant and astute readers have noticed the similarities between Divine Wisdom and Warlock Zoo. Both are tempo decks focusing on establishing board control in the early game and have quality card draw that allows them to steal/win games that go long. Personally however, I am not a big fan of Zoo at all. It’s not that I think the deck is very poor (though better players generally know how to deal with these types of decks). Instead, the primary reason why I don’t enjoying playing Zoo is due to its extremely linear strategy. For me, this becomes very monotonous over time. Now you may ask yourself, “Isn’t Divine Wisdom just Paladin Zoo and therefore just as linear?”. Though a very valid question, the answer is no.
Divine Wisdom has so many more lines of play than Zoo and in the words of my colleague DarkFrost, “Paladin feels so much better to win with.” In general, the Zoo play-style boils down to making advantageous trades through buffing one’s minions (i.e. power overwhelming, abusive sergeant, dark iron dwarf, etc.) and trying to play around sweeper effects. In contrast, the list of combos mentioned in the previous section are just scratching the surface of the types of things to keep track of during an actual game. Personally, I like to think of this deck as the AP/honors version of Zoo. I will acknowledge the fact that Zoo has a stronger early game due to flame imp and voidwalker. However, it has fewer ways to deal with larger minions (i.e. edwin vancleef) and typically has a tougher time playing around sweeper effects.
I would like to take this time to thank my readers for all of the positive [and constructive] comments. Moreover, Basic and DarkFrost helped me play-test this iteration of the deck so here is a special shout-out to them as well for their efforts. Thanks to all of you for reading and hope you guys enjoyed the article! As always, I look forward to reading your comments! 🙂